It’s been two weeks since the launch of CNN+, and it’s not living up to the hype: Only 10,000 people are watching daily, according to inside sources who spoke to CNBC. It's a little early to be ringing the death knell, but the number is reportedly underwhelming executives.
About 773,000 people watch CNN live every day on cable TV, so CNN+ is clearly only attracting a tiny fraction of that viewership. The media institution learned long ago how to keep viewers eyeballs glued to the screen, and the streaming service was supposed to bring that attention-grabbing news content to viewers, on demand. A few newscasts run live — including an evening newscast with anchor Wolf Blitzer — but most of the content, like a serialized documentary about the Murdoch family and Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown,” are available to stream at any time.
The platform “serves CNN superfans, news junkies, and fans of quality non-fiction programming,” CNN said in a press release upon launch.
The number of daily active users is a weird metric to gauge success — the more common comparison for streaming services is monthly subscribers. But CNBC reporter Alex Sherman tweeted that CNN sources would only provide daily numbers, which makes it tough to compare the fledgling streaming service to its rivals.
However, even as an imperfect estimate, the low number of viewers signals that CNN lags behind some competitors. ESPN+, offered by Disney, has 21.3 million total subscribers, while Peacock, with some news programming, has 9 million paying subscribers. Fox Nation, essentially a mirror of CNN+ from across the political aisle, has never announced its subscriber numbers, instead describing its metrics in terms of percentage increases and decreases.
Other streaming services push entertainment first, news second (or not at all), and those services' numbers are jaw-dropping by comparison. Netflix, for example, has 222 million monthly subscribers worldwide, and Apple TV+, considered an up-start even with its Best Picture Academy Award, has 25 million monthly subscribers.
CNN is part of Warner Media, along with TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network, but is the only one of these channels with its own standalone streaming service (although we wouldn’t say no to Cartoon Network on demand). Warner Bros. and Discovery completed a merger this week, in what appears to be the beginning of massive consolidation in the streaming market. Insiders who spoke with CNBC said that CNN+ would likely become a part of a bundled offering with HBO Max and Discovery+.